vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
[personal profile] vaecrius
(Just as I attempt to start preparing this to post on DW, a courier comes in to pick up a cheque for these guys - the motto is, of course, a play on moving mountains, while "move mountains" is itself a priest spell from the original Exile series that... well, let's just say it gets you into houses to let you move things out of them.)

Context: I've got stewing in the back of my mind (and a few text files in my hard drive) for a while now an idea for a reboot of Jeff Vogel's Avernum setting, with a mind to play up all the wonderful and utterly missed and squandered opportunities at exploring the ecological and cultural ramifications of living in such a completely different environment as a magic-powered endless underground maze. The gameplay, if I ever got to that point, would be a very random roguelike with very little in the way of game-stat optimizing or trying to "win" things by clearing everything (in fact you would be ostracized by everyone for wiping out all large animals in a cave, for example) - the exact polar opposite of the sort of games Spiderweb make, so there would be no competition. (EDIT: And quite possibly Linux-only, to underscore the point.)

One recurring feature of the Exile/Avernum games' magic system is to have 2 classes of spells: "mage" spells that rely on your usual fantasy magic; and "priest" "spells" that... well, mechanically they are identical to mage spells except in the particular effects available, though they are described as prayers rather than incantations. You run into occasional NPCs who explain certain points of doctrine, but as far as I've ever played this has had no systemic effect on the spells available and the general feel is as though one bought a church, removed all the icons, replaced the crosses with ankhs and never opened the books except for a couple fake props where the viewer never even gets a fleeting glimpse of the contents.

I figure if I ever get this underground-roguelike-Avernum-knockoff game off the ground, I should probably do something along these lines, but with more meat to it. So...

Considering the utter blasphemy of reducing the love of our Lord to some mechanically reproducible effects (especially when many if not most of them involve violence and any of them may be invoked with ill intent), pulling the icons out of the crawlspace, replacing the props with the real books, putting the crosses back up and simply using Christianity for this is out of the question.

Given the nature of the setting, the place should be crawling with heretics (however defined) and apostates and others. A religious monoculture would make no sense.

To keep things manageable, let's posit 3 major prototypical religions, all of them monotheistic.

For game balance reasons on top of the first constraint, not one of them should actually be, as they say, the Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth.

For suspension of disbelief reasons (and to avoid the whole thing degenerating into a mere satire about people fighting over arbitrary and meaningless perceived differences in theology, without limiting the power to include that elsewhere), they should be reasonably distinct.

Solution: 3 different monotheistic, unitarian religions, each derivative of one of the 3 Abrahamic faiths and one of the persons of the Trinity.

Which give us the followers and priests of: Eternal Light, Conquering Sun, Living Fire.

basic theology

EL: God is unknowable except through a series of very specific and arbitrary revelations to his prophets that culimated in the Chosen One. It is by following these revelations with perfect devotion, as recorded in the sacred texts handed down to the Chosen One, that one will be deemed worthy in the afterlife to be crowned with perfection and granted service within the eternal bliss of divine truth. Any and all may believe and become a follower, and every follower may act as a priest; where a distinction is required for the game mechanics, one is a priest if one has cast a priest spell within the last 14 days.

CS: God made himself known first through a series of revelations to his prophets, but that was primarily to prepare for his directly entering into the world as the son of the Chosen One, redeeming the world by his entering into death with mankind and permanently bridging the worlds of life and death, light and darkness, God and man, that all may find their way and be saved. Any and all may believe, but one must go through the death/rebirth ritual to become a follower, and a long training regimen to become a priest.

LF: God continually makes himself known through his living energies that manifest in our universe. These living energies are everywhere, but they only make themselves comprehensible through revelation to God's prophets, an unbroken line of descendants of the Chosen One whose members can be found all over the world. Any and all may believe, but one must go through the purification ritual (which includes a permanent mark on the right hand) to become a follower, and only those of the Chosen One's line by blood (not marriage) may be a priest.

There would, of course, be sects within each of these, some often quite hostile, but they can be dealt with as ordinary NPC factions.


Followers of a different creed than the one the bless is based on get a reduced blessing, except for priests who get no blessing from an infidel priest. Someone who is blessed is immune to a blessing from another creed, unless the second bless is from the creed they follow.

EL: Can only be done after specific ritual at certain times in the day.

CS: Can be done at any time, with only one particular person each time unless directed through an AoE object like holy water.

LF: Can be done at any time, but only after a very specific and somewhat time-consuming ritual. Always AoE.

turn undead

Undead who are serving a priest of one creed cannot be turned under that creed.
Screw that, let the turn-battles begin!

An attempt to command undead raised by the CS turn may make it hostile; LF turns, if they only injure and do not destroy entirely, will make all CS-raised and EL-commanded undead hostile.

EL: Command undead; bury themselves if no particular function given.
Alt: Shield party from undead attacks.

CS: Destroy undead, except those pure of heart while alive which will turn ally (but usually cannot be commanded directly).
Alt: Cause nearby dead to rise to fight for you (but will not attack other CS); more temporary spirits are summoned if no dead are nearby.

LF: Destroy undead.
Alt: Area around party that undead cannot enter and will damage undead if a party member moves within range (taking the AoE with them).


EL: If and only while the additional prayer rule is kept. Infections begin to disappear and new ones die on contact. Tissue heals at accelerated rate and complications and debilities associated with the injury are drastically reduced. Only available for followers.

CS: Chance of instant total, perfect recovery after a single long and involved prayer ritual, which may be repeated as many times as necessary. Not available for infidel priests.

LF: Rapid regeneration of all injuries for seven days following a single long and involved prayer ritual which must not be repeated on the same person within that period or all injuries are doubled in severity. The effect is an AoE, and the regeneration period (not the cooldown) is reduced to 3 days for affected infidels, while infidel priests have a chance of being poisoned.

un-christian unfortunate implications

EL: Risk of stereotypical paladin. Routine One True Way schism.

CS: Lots of necromancy and netherworld portals, and being blamed therefor.

LF: Occasionally indistinguishable from magic. De facto caste system based on purity of blood.

A party consisting entirely of followers of only one creed is going to be vastly more efficient in combat. However, an NPC's reaction tends to start off (and usually stay) markedly negative if there is no party member of the same creed present, and the presence of clergy of the same creed usually adds a bonus unless the NPC is marked to react otherwise. An interfaith party may well be able to secure enough gear and favours to offset the disadvantage - subject to the actual factions in play, of course.

I know this

if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content.

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